Southern California is beginning to see signs of a tepid recovery with the median sales price in the area edging up to $290,000 in April, according to real estate analytics firm DataQuick.

Compared to the months of March 2012 and April 2011 that is a 3.6% price hike, with the median price in both of those periods hitting $280,000 in the southern part of the state.

This is the first year-over-year price increase in 16 months, suggesting home affordability levels are driving Southern California home sales along with declining inventory levels and low-cost foreclosures.

Even though prices in April were higher than a year ago, they are still well below average, DataQuick said.

The April median price is 17.4% above the $247,000 median sales value recorded in the trough of the 2009 recession, but still 41.6% below the $505,000 peak reached in mid-2007.

"The housing market continued its painful slow crawl back toward normalcy last month. You can see it in the fading role of foreclosures, the uptick in median prices here and there, and the higher levels of sales in coastal counties," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

There are several other factors keeping the recovering market in an abnormal state. Among them is a lack of a recovery in the jumbo loan market and the fact that many homeowners are still underwater, DataQuick said.   

A total of 19,284 homes and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange Counties in April. That is down 3.4% from 19,953 in March and up 5.1% from 18,344 in April 2011.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com